The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office refused to disclose how it ensures its funding for the Palestinian Authority does not go to incentivizing terrorism, it said in response to a freedom of information request from pro-Israel organizations.
The FCDO website states that it is prioritizing “helping the Palestinian Authority to build strong institutions and enable them to deliver essential services, including policing, health, and education.”
We Believe in Israel and B’nai B’rith UK submitted a freedom of information petition, calling on the Foreign Office to publish documents concerning how British aid to the PA is audited. The two NGOs sought, in light of the recent murder of UK citizens Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee in a Palestinian terror attack, to establish whether British taxpayer funds were going to the “Pay for Slay” program, by which the PA pays a monthly salary to terrorists in Israeli prisons and the families of terrorists killed by Israel.
FCDO failed to respond to petition
At first, the FCDO failed to respond to the petition, in apparent contravention of UK law, eventually answering after the organizations complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office. In the interim, the Foreign Office did not respond to a Jerusalem Post query about why the NGOs were not receiving an answer.
The FCDO sent a refusal letter to the NGOs last week, saying that “the disclosure of information detailing the audit reports of the Palestinian Recovery and Development Programme could potentially damage the bilateral relationship between the UK and Palestine. This would reduce the UK government's ability to protect and promote UK interests through its relations with Palestine, which would not be in the public interest.”
"UK Lawyers for Israel petitioned the now-defunct Department for International Development for similar documents in 2019. The DFID initially agreed to release the information, but ultimately denied the request for the same reason as in 2023."
The organizations plan to petition the Information Commissioner’s Office again, to try to force the FCDO to disclose how it ensures British taxpayer funds are not used to incentivize Palestinian terrorism.
We Believe in Israel Director Luke Akehurst said that the freedom of information request “was submitted in good faith as part of an attempt to ensure that British aid to the Palestinian Authority is not being used to support, facilitate, or incentivize terrorism, be that directly or indirectly.
“By initially failing to lawfully respond and now refusing to provide the disclosure, the FCDO raises questions about the integrity of its foreign aid distribution, especially to the Palestinian Authority,” Akehurst said, questioning whether “the FCDO are attempting to conceal serious due diligence failures.”
B'nai B'rith UK Bureau of International Affairs Director Jeremy Havardi accused the FCDO of “institutional arrogance, opacity, and a strong aversion to scrutiny.”
“While the FCDO may not want to answer as to whether or not they are aware the aid it disburses to the PA incentivizes terrorism, we do not accept their position. Our work continues, and we are confident that we will succeed in securing this disclosure.”
The PA pays a monthly stipend greater than the average salary of a Palestinian to terrorists and their families. The amount increases the greater the prison sentence, such that Ramallah pays more for wounding or killing more Israelis.